How I got to Google page #1 without thinking about SEO
Last week I got a lovely surprise. A tweet peep, Jen Dainer, tweeted me a picture of some Google search results. She’d started typing “copywriter” into everyone’s favourite search engine and before she’d completed the word, there I was ranked at number two (right after Wikipedia). Someone else then told me I was ranked number three for the word “copywriting” *.
To say I was pleased is a massive understatement. I don’t pay an SEO company. I’ve done it all myself and SEO wasn’t my primary focus. Do you want to know how?
* Before you call “bullshit”, read the post and the disclaimers at the end.
Regular, relevant content
I publish a new post on The Copy Detective every week. Every Wednesday at 8am to be exact. I have a clear idea about who my blog readers are and what they care about, and I do my very best to make sure each blog post is relevant and valuable.
Let me repeat that, because it’s important when it comes to SEO: Relevant and valuable content.
Once I pick a topic, I do some quick keyword analysis using Google’s keyword tool. I don’t spend very long. Just long enough to get a feel for the kind of phrases people search on when looking for my topic, and I use those phrases throughout the post.
I’ve made sure my content is linked to my Google + profile via the rel=author tag. This proves authorship, which Google likes and when my posts show up in search results my mug is there too, which helps my website stand out on the page.
My goal for each piece of content is quite simple: it’s to help someone write better copy.
The SEO lesson? Write for your audience and be generous with your knowledge.
Guest blogging on credible sites
There is a lot of talk right now, amongst SEO and blogging circles, that guest blogging is going to get hammered by Google (in a bad way). The point Matt Cutts makes in this video is that writing low-quality blogs and articles and getting them published on low-quality blogs will get you penalised by Google.
When it comes to using guest posting as an SEO strategy, quality is everything. The quality of the post you write, quality of the links you include and the quality of the blog it’s published on. If it’s all high quality, Google will reward you.
I write guest blogs to share my expertise and build my reputation. I write unique articles that are written with the specific audience of that blog in mind. I only submit posts that I would be proud to publish here on The Copy Detective.
The SEO lesson? Think beyond the link.
Commenting on other blogs
I regularly read and share a whole raft of blogs from other copywriters, marketers, SEO specialists and business thought leaders. When I feel like I have something to add to the discussion I leave a comment.
Does this bring me the SEO pot of gold? No. What I am doing is participating in a community, hopefully in a meaningful fashion, and building relationships as I go. That’s the kind of activity that Google likes to see.
Remember, you’ll only get people clicking your link if your comment has sparked some interest, so put some thought into it! Once you get the click, you need to make sure you drop them off in a valuable location. If your content sucks, the click is wasted.
The SEO lesson? Again, think beyond the link. Showcase your knowledge and take part in a community.
Social media shizzle
Anyone who has known me for a little while knows that I am fairly prolific on social media. I looooove to tweet, share, update, post, retweet, like and +1. I love the people I’ve met through social media and the rich content I’ve been exposed to.
The top two sources of traffic to my website are Twitter and Facebook, with LinkedIn appearing in the top ten. That shows that social media is a great mechanism to share your high-quality content and attract people to your website. I also regularly post on Google +. It doesn’t send me heaps of traffic but Google clearly loves Google + and that’s enough for me to stick around and get to know people.
More importantly than traffic, social media is all about the audience. Social media lets me find out what people think and what they are interested in, and I use that to drive my content marketing strategy.
From an SEO point of view, when you use social media to actively interact with people and share awesome content, you are showing Google your “social proof”. You’re showing Google that people trust and like you and that can give you a few extra SEO brownie points.
The SEO lesson: Social media should be more marketing and less SEO.
Directories and other links
I also have Copywrite Matters listed on a few directories, like TrueLocal and Hotfrog. I have to admit that I don’t really rate these as hard-working components of my SEO strategy. Why? Just creating a directory profile isn’t enough. It needs to be refreshed regularly and create action, like a blog.
If I were getting regular reviews and comments, I think these directory listings would help me more but, to be honest, it’s not something that keeps me up at night.
So there you have the regular activities that have rocked me to page one of Google for a number of really great keywords about copywriting. I do all this myself, without the help of an SEO company. I am an SEO copywriter but writing optimised copy actually doesn’t feature very highly as I write. When I’m happy with the post, I go back and look for opportunities for optimisation.
In fact, getting a good search engine ranking isn’t what I’m thinking about when I’m doing any of this stuff.
As I mentioned above, my goal in everything I do is to help others write better copy. I make sure my content marketing is consistently regular and always has my audience in mind.
Some SEO specialists might laugh at my efforts and call “bullshit” on my results. I welcome you to skim down to my disclaimers but I think the results speak for themselves. Of all my leads, 95% now come from search engine searches and the higher I rank, the fewer tyre kickers I get.
For anyone considering their own SEO, I’d love to know… is this something you could do? Or are doing now? Do you do anything differently? Let me know!
The Copy Detective
#1 Yes, the SEO results I was sent are probably skewed
While I love that people outside of my house are finding me at the top of their search engine results, I double-checked my SEO ranking in Market Samurai. It told me I was ranking really well for more specific terms like “SEO copywriter Melbourne” and “copywriter Melbourne” (amongst others) but I wasn’t really on the radar for high-level terms like “copywriter”.
I put the results I was sent down to Google’s preference for local results, and Market Samurai not necessarily factoring that in AND the fact that I know these two people from social media. That vague connection could be influencing their results.
#2 This isn’t 100% comprehensive SEO strategy
This is just what I do as part of my regular content marketing, social media marketing and SEO strategy. My first priority is always to create and share valuable relevant content and engage with the people who care about what I care about.